Montevideo, Uruguay: Vacations and travel info
The landscape of Montevideo is carved into the waters of the Rio de la Plata and the fertile lands of South America. Here in the capital of Uruguay, you'll find the headquarters of Mercosur (a commercial union between Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela) due to the city's ideal political-geographic location, right on the best natural port on the continent. The warm ambiance provided by the friendly locals, combined with amazing architecture and unique scenery, make this destination an extraordinary place to visit.
The city lies adjacent to the delta uniting the Rio de la Plata with the Atlantic Ocean, creating waters that vary in salt levels, color and waves. Even though it's a river, many Montevideo locals still consider it as ocean due to its unique properties. The beaches formed under these conditions are some of the most important attractions in the city, drawing in people from all over the country along with tourists from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Europe, Central America, Canada and the United States.
Montevideo is divided into 59 neighborhoods known as "barrios", many of which used to be outskirt towns until they eventually were swallowed up into the large metropolis. La Ciudad Vieja (The Old City) is one of the most significant barrios, being the site where the city's original population lived. Today, La Ciudad Vieja is filled with charming shops and cafes along with nightlife hotspots and cultural theaters. Barrio del Cerro (Hill Neighborhood) is the highest point in the city, where you'll find Cerro de Montevideo (Montevideo Hill). Rumor has it that the city's name originates from the fact that the city was a small mountain ("monte") that could be "seen" ("vide", in Portuguese) from the ships of Portuguese explorer Magellan.
Much to Discover
Since the day the Spanish Crown founded the city in the 18th century, one of the strongest ports in South America was formed, second only to the city of Cartagena. This city was originally known as San Felipe y Santiago de Montevideo. Originally inhabited by the Spanish (mainly from the Canary Islands), along with Creole immigrants from Buenos Aires, the city was built under colonial traditions. Today, you can find beautiful colonial buildings in La Ciudad Vieja, in Villa del Cerro and in La Teja, which are the oldest populations that originally formed what is now urban Montevideo. La Ciudad Vieja, also known as "ciudadela", was once surrounded by a wall built in the style of traditional European fortresses. Currently, only the entrance door remains as a historic monument.
The architectural scenery around the city holds examples of everything from neoclassic and colonial structures to postmodern buildings like the Montevideo World Trade Center. Latin America's first skyscraper, the Palacio Salvo, is also located in this amazing city.
From the end of January up until March, the streets of Montevideo fill up with music and festivals. Uruguay's carnavals are some of the largest in the world. Instead of flashy parades, Montevideo's carnaval celebrations focus on musical street theater featuring tango, murga and candombe, the official rhythms of the city. Murga is an especially popular local music genre, based on percussions and often represented theatrically using colorful costumes and wardrobe. The candombe style is interpreted with drums, especially in the "desfile de llamadas" celebration, and has gained popularity on an international level. According to various experts, the tango originated in Montevideo. Many famous Uruguayan tango dancers are recognized worldwide, such as Gerardo Matos, Carlos Gardel, and others.
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